(black and) white christmas

December 27, 2007

hello all, from duluth, mn!  i’m at home for the holidays…it’s been a fun trip.  i got to spend some great time with family and friends…and had a truly white christmas!  soon, back to copenhagen for  the new year.  in the meantime, here are some photos that i took today at my parents’ house:

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on my way home to the states for christmas with family and friends, i had an extra-long layover in iceland…and got to go to the blue lagoon! if anyone reading this ever has a chance to fly though reykjavik…take the optional layover and do this – it was amazing. the blue lagoon is a volcanic hot spring – geothermal seawater is fed into the lagoon for comfortable year-round outdoor bathing. once again, i ended up in a chilly northern location at the coldest time of the year. however, despite the fact that there was an ongoing heavy rain and wind storm, i was able to be outside in the lagoon and be quite comfortable in the water even with the waves and showers. it made for lousy photo-taking, which was a bummer because the colors were absolutely incredible. i only have a few photos, so i made them extra-big to compensate. ; ) the water in the pool has a unique combination of minerals, silica, and algae that make it a very pale powder blue color, almost white. being in the pool amid the dark, rocky landscape (and in low lighting conditions for most of the day…oh, december) was again surreal, on par with seeing the norwegian fjords in november fog and ice. i read somewhere that the lagoon has only existed since the 70’s, when the nearby geothermal power plant (which you can see in the distance from the pool) tapped the spring. its convenient location only 20 minutes from the reykjavik airport made the visit super easy. definitely the best layover i’ve ever had. ; ) the photos below are from the non-bathing part of the sping, as i didn’t bring my camera in the pool with me…here are some postcards that i picked up so that i could show people what the blue lagoon looks like on a not-stormy day when there are actually people using it: bluelagoon.jpg.

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jul i tivoli!

December 12, 2007

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i’m beginning to feel as if i’m marking the seasons with visits to tivoli…! first the summer and the food festival, then halloween, and now, of course…christmas. 🙂  kari, libby, todd and i visited not too long ago during the christmas market, which included festive seasonal lighting (as is tivoli’s specialty) as well as seasonal snacks and handicrafts…and nisser land (a large temporary building dedicated to a children’s train ride through an enormous north pole scene packed with danish elves, or nisser).  you get the idea.  it was lots of fun, and tivoli looked great all dressed up for the holidays:

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grundtvigskirke

December 8, 2007

img_0835.jpga warning for those of my friendly readers who are not huge fans of architecture: what follows is essentially a bunch of photos of a church. but it’s a great church! : ) kari and i saw this in one of her copenhagen travel books and decided we had to check it out. grundtvigskirke (named after theologian, hymn-writer, and many-initialed n. f. s. grundtvig) is located in the north-western copenhagen neighborhood of bispebjerg. i’ve read it referred to as a “village-style” cathedral, which i assume describes the way in which the surrounding cluster of buildings are detailed to make a total design of the roughly block-sized area centered on the church. it’s almost like its own little enclave, and is reinforced both by the topographically prominent position of the church on top of one of copenhagen’s few hills as well as the formal axis of the park that faces it (for an aerial view, check out this map i made: grundtvigs_map.jpg). we had a hard time determining the age of the church on our own (the grandeur of the space suggested turn of the 20th century or earlier, but the yellow brick was screaming ‘1970’s!’). it was actually designed and completed between 1921 and 1940 as part of the danish national-romantic movement. the form and style in general are supposed to be a grander version of a typical danish country church. it’s a really amazing building – the brickwork is superb, and the scale is comparable to that of the many more famous cathedrals that i’ve seen in france and italy. in any case, this was a fantastic building…now for more photos (i had trouble editing, so there are lots)!gk6.jpgexterior details: the top of the main tower/the front entrancegk5.jpgside and front entry doors – beautiful brick detailing!img_0793.jpgthe interior: brick vaulting (this is all brick!)gk2.jpgthe main aisle/column and vaulting detailgk1.jpglighting fixture/side aislegk3.jpglighting and vaulting/nave set with chairsimg_0800.jpgthe organ on the west end of the church (wow!!)gk7.jpgback to the exterior: side elevation/what i like to call “perspective with cart”img_0827.jpgexterior view of rear (east) facade with buttressesimg_0826.jpgbuttresses meet the groundgk4.jpgand back to the front…you can see the way that the buildings to the side stylistically complement the main church…this happens all the way around, creating an entire complex of mini-grundtvigs-church-like buildings.

cph brunch culture

December 5, 2007

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one of my favorite food discoveries here in copenhagen (other than the many, many bakeries and their warm pastries and the grainy, dark, danish sandwich bread, and ok…i could go on for a while here) is the city’s brunch culture. every other restaurant has a brunch menu, and most of them serve it seven days a week! also, copey-style brunch completely solves my recurring problem of having to decide whether to order a sweet or savory breakfast item. when you order brunch in copenhagen, you get not only fruit, yogurt, pancakes, oj, and bread with marmalade, but also cheese, eggs, sausage, proscuitto, veggies…you name it! it’s like a breakfast-y tasting menu – small portions of lots of different stuff. and needless to say, it’s all delicious. i’ve been waiting on this post for a while so that i could save up a collection of yummy brunches to share, so some of the photos are from the fall (notice the lovely outdoor weather and leaves on the trees). the photo above is from what was probably my favorite brunch (lakeside!), which rhiannon and i enjoyed in october on what was definitely the last day of sitting-outside-and-eating weather. hmm, all this brunch talk is making me hungry…

here’s a brief recap of the copey brunch (with friends!) experience so far:

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september brunch with emma in christianshavn: yogurt with fruit and syrup, pancakes, orange juice, bread and butter, more fruit, cheese, veggies, eggs, bacon, sausage…

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october brunch with rhi on the lakes: orange juice, bread and butter, fruit, salami, eggs, fried potato cakes, cheese, bacon, eggs, veggies…

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november brunch with kari in nørrebro: café klimt’s ‘superbrunch’ of orange juice, fruit, bread and butter, proscuitto, cheese, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, chili-sesame-coconut chicken skewer, and chorizo…we were full for the day after this one…

so far, so good…though i feel that there might be many brunches still to be eaten!

today i got to see the lighting of the municipal christmas tree, one of the yearly holiday events here in copenhagen. it’s santa’s job to make sure that the lovely tree you see below is lit every year; however, i found danish santa’s technique to be a bit…unconventional. i’ve come to learn that each country has its own particular christmas traditions…and in denmark, santa’s a pyro. read on.

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here’s the beautiful finished product. but let’s start at the beginning and see a little “process.” (that’s for you architecture people out there!) every year on the first sunday of december, santa ceremonially lights the christmas tree in the rådhuspladsen (city hall square) to kick off the holiday festivities.

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santa arrives at the square not in a sleigh, but via fire truck (which is appropriate, for reasons which will soon become very apparent)

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crowds of onlookers wearing tiny santa hats watch with apprehension…

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as santa ascends the fire truck ladder to the tree.

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then, just as he reaches the top, santa pulls out what at first appears to be a fire hose…

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but is in fact some kind of festive, tree-lighting blowtorch!

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santa takes no chances in making sure that the tree is lit…!

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(and how!)

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finally, santa descends the ladder after a successful tree-lighting (and, thankfully, no pyrotechnic mishaps).

“god jul” from copenhagen, and may your tree be well-lit!